Sexual Violence Tells Stories

Book review:

Taylor, Dianna. Sexual Violence and Humiliation: A Foucauldian-Feminist Perspective. Abingdon: Routledge, 2020. 128 pages. ISBN 9781138581432. Pbk. N.p.

Urban Space as Spatial Biography in Anthony De Sa’s Barnacle Love and Kicking the Sky

Drawing on Michel de Certeau’s insights on spatial practices the essay analyzes two works by Canadian writer Anthony De Sa, Barnacle Love (2008) and its follow-up, Kicking the Sky (2013), and maps the spatial biography of their protagonist and narrator, Antonio Rebelo, from childhood to early adulthood. De Sa’s works are set in Toronto, presented as a city in transition. Both narratives interrelate the protagonist’s story with the spatial setting of Toronto’s Little Portugal and with the cultural issue of emigration. They also delve into the complex urban social reality formed by subalternity, hard work, sexual exploitation, spectral memory, and family affects. De Sa’s interpretation of Toronto as the background of Antonio’s spatial biography constructs a complex interaction with the cityscape and its different emotionally conflicting spaces. To greater or lesser degrees in Barnacle Love and Kicking the Sky De Sa’s storytelling questions the concept of Toronto the Good and the actual city of Toronto becomes a rhetorical space—the backdrop for a coming-of-age narration that empowers Antonio Rebelo with invention and agency and launches him toward adult life. (SCB)

Telling the Untellable: Trauma and Sexuality in Big Little Lies

The problem of sexual violence, including rape, domestic assault, sexual harassment, and molestation has recently become a topical issue both in public discourse and popular culture. The unspoken individual traumas have found their way to the world of TV series, such as HBO’s mini-series Big Little Lies. The essay explores the unique ways in which the television series treats sexuality and personal traumas. It argues that while by no means can it be regarded as a soap opera, Big Little Lies occasionally uses and rewrites the genre-specific codes of this traditionally low-prestige television genre intended for women to alter the representation of individual traumas in popular culture. The use of flashbacks and involuntary repetition as narrative elements along with the retrospective framework of a criminal investigation make the serial form much suited to examine individual traumas. The television series attempts the almost impossible: to speak of the trauma’s unspeakability, and simultaneously it seeks to maintain its high viewership. (ZsOR)